Identifying signals of change

One of the creatures that fascinates me is the woolly mammoth.

I love elephants for the sheer size, and sometimes when I see one, I imagine what a mammoth would look like. Unfortunately, these beasts got extinct almost 4000 years ago, and there is no scientific explanation. However, logical thinking has no boundaries so I am going to let my imagination run wild. That means we have to look at the timeline around 2000 BCE.

There were roughly 25 major human civilizations during that time, and most of them on the northern hemisphere were hunters. It’s believed that mammoths were a nice target proabably because it is easy to hunt a large animal for a group of smaller predators – and let’s not forget that weapons and vehicles were already invented, so it was definitely an (unfair) advantage.

Another theory says that global warming caused them to die, probably because they had a lot of hair and they started feeling hot because the earth was getting warmer. Some people say, it’s the mix of both – and we are free to believe whatever we want to believe.

However, a Darwinian would have a different point of view – mammoths failed to adapt to unfamiliar situations. No one wants to die, so why didn’t they try to adapt?

The answer is simple – they didn’t feel the need to change.

A few months ago, we went shopping and wanted a quick bite in between. Why not McDonald’s? I thought a single serving of gluten, cheese and mayo with a pinch of vegetables wouldn’t harm, and we stepped in. I collected the order choices of every group member and walked up to the order counter, but they were not taking any orders. The women (interestingly, the staff was all women) giggled while one of them said that they wouldn’t accept any order. I would have to use the “order terminal”.

I walked up to what appeared to be a giant LED touchscreen that threw up a slew of options about the kind of food we wanted to order. There were three terminals and I was in queue behind one Norweigian youngster who had difficulty finding a hamburger. The clean, minimal user interface did not have a search feature, and he was so disappointed when I told him they don’t sell hamburgers here. Soon, I got a chance to try it myself and it took me nearly 7 minutes to order 6 items, and once done I felt relieved.

Then, I remembered the giggling staff members, and I reckoned they would be enjoying the show as the roles had switched—earlier, they were tapping on the screen, translating our complex transitive orders into KOT that would flash on the screen, and sometimes, it must have been frustrating for them.

I felt that this was a great step in helping the staff, especially in India, where many people are everywhere. Machines are helping us automate stuff and make our jobs easier. But I can not help seeing the other side of the picture. India is a populous country, and we need as many jobs as possible, but automation reduces them instead of creating new roles!

Perhaps the staff at McDonald’s still needs to learn that it’s a matter of a few years before non-demanding robots will make their over-simplified food, and maybe only a couple of humans would oversee the entire operation!

Unlike mammoths, humans seek evolution.

Many other species have evolved, but none matches our rate. But even among humans, some evolve massively while others are stuck in the same routine—wake up, survive, go to bed.

What makes us different, those who evolve? They watch for signals of change and adapt instead of accepting their fate as mammoths did—though I am not sure if mammoths had the drive to survive because if they did, we would have at least seen them live on TV if not at a nearby zoo.

Currently, the signal of change is automation.

If you feel your current job is / can be automated, be the first one to do it OR start looking for a new job.

Once something is automated, a person of lesser skills can do it and your skills won’t hold any value.

The key is to try learning a newer skill which is more difficult.

A long time back, “Executive Assistants” were in demand. Mostly, it would be a female role and would require making/receiving calls and letters on behalf of the executive. The job was (is) highly demanding and time consuming. Around 2010 when Internet became a cheap commodity, the tech world identified the role “Virtual Assistant” that would do everything an Executive Assistant does, minus the employment commitment, at a much cheaper rate. Asians with near-fluent English skills started doing it at half of the minimum wage and startups were founded on this concept.

Now, we have “AI Assistants” which more or less do the same thing at a fraction of the cost. I agree, AI is still unable to replace a human completely, but that’s just a matter of time and it’s reducing fast.

The world is on the brink of change, and only the fittest (smartest) will survive this storm of automation. Are you ready for it? Please let me know your views in the comments.

2 thoughts on “Identifying signals of change”

  1. Surprisingly, the post awakens humans to learn new skills and at the same time it is frightening.

    It’s not easy to change and it’s even more difficult for some to figure out how to utilize AI to improve.

    But, AI is too good to be true and whatever is too good, is a bubble. My question is what happens when this bubble pops?

    1. The bubble will not “pop”; everyone will have their own bubble, and thus, it will not have any differentiation point.

      For example, once someone reads this post, they can ask AI to generate their version of the post using my context. If they have more followers, their post will drive more traffic.

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